Holy Cross Greets Students With Open Arms

For the first time in awhile, I was on campus for freshmen move-in day.

It is quite a sight to behold — car after car arrives and a swarm of current students, faculty and staff greet the freshmen and their families and immediately take all of their belongings up to their rooms.   As you can see in the video, it is a tradition for current students to greet the freshmen with the same open arms with which they were greeted when they first arrived on campus for their first day.

If this is a tradition that repeats itself year after year, then someone had to be the first to experience this ritual.  This got me to thinking about Holy Cross alum James Healy and his first day on campus — most likely he was filled with a blend of nervousness and excitement just like this year’s freshmen.

But there must have been a special anxiety to his first journey to campus.  James was born in Georgia in 1830, the son of an Irish immigrant plantation owner and a female slave.  At the time, Georgia law dictated that a child of this type of union was a slave.  But James would go on to become the very first valedictorian at Holy Cross in 1849, the first African-American Roman Catholic priest and the country’s first African-American Catholic bishop.

What must it have been like when he first arrived Holy Cross?

I can imagine what he saw – the lush, green hillside of Mount Saint James, the babbling brook at its base, the seven hills of Worcester and their inspirational vistas.

But I can’t imagine how he felt.   I do know that he was welcomed with the same open arms that this year’s freshmen were and perhaps then, a tradition began.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Why Holy Cross? Because Our Alums Have So Much Pride

The most recent edition of the Holy Cross employee newsletter featured a 16 year member of our graphic arts department. When asked about the strangest job request she’s ever received, she shared that an alumnus once called to request a high resolution file of the Holy Cross school seal. Perhaps he wanted to print it on his letterhead, or on a set of note cards? Wrong. It was so he could be sure his new tattoo was an accurate depiction! At a local high school a few years ago, another alumnus sought me out in the crowd to show me his own Holy Cross tattoo. His was of the Crusader mascot, and yes, it was spot on. Though we don’t all have tattoos representing our beloved alma mater, the pride that these alumni show on their arms is shared by us all. Go Cross! 

And congratulations to our newest class of alums.

Lynn Verrecchia ’01
Associate Director of Admissions

Why Holy Cross? The People.

When no one is watching, in the dim early morning light, employees scurry around this campus like parents on Christmas Eve.

Some are planting perfectly placed impatiens on Linden Lane while others apply the final glaze to the decadent chocolate doughnuts in Kimball Dining Hall.  Other times of the year they might be sanding and salting sidewalks in front of Dinand Library or delicately seasoning the clam chowder at Crossroads.  Perhaps my favorite would be this – on mild spring mornings, as the sun rises and warms O’Kane Hall, I look out the window of my office and see one veteran school employee turn on the fountain in Memorial Plaza so that when students parade to class an hour or two later, they might be soothed by the sound of the bubbling water and tempted just for a minute to test the temperature with their hand.

No matter the time of year, each and every day, while students sleep, there are literally hundreds of people preparing this campus and this school just for them.  I’m often asked what my single favorite thing about Holy Cross is and I know for a fact that I’ve given more than just one answer to that question.  But if someone asked me today, I’d say this: my favorite thing about Holy Cross is the people – those employees who care enough to make sure the flowers are perfectly aligned and those curious students who stop just for a moment to run their hand through the warm water of the fountain and appreciate where they go to school.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

The Invisible Gorilla

Many people have seen the well-known “Invisible Gorilla” experiment on YouTube.  Viewers are instructed to watch a short video clip with two groups of people – some wearing black shirts and others wearing white shirts.  Both groups of people move around in a seemingly random, jumbled fashion and the challenge for the viewer is to count how many times the participants wearing white pass the basketball. 

The answer is fifteen.  But that’s not the point. 

The point is that in the middle of the clip, a person wearing a gorilla suit enters the frame and most viewers are paying such close attention to counting the passes that they simply don’t even see the gorilla.  It’s a wonderful study in “looking without seeing” or how our focused attention can cause us to miss obvious realities that are staring us in the face (and pounding their chest).

While traveling this fall to meet with students, I’ve heard the following statement several times:

“I love that college – the tour guide was awesome!”

When I hear that, I think to myself – they missed the gorilla.

Taking an official campus tour is a valuable part of the campus visit.  But, when walking the campus, you should not only pay attention to the tour guide, but also to all the information you can gleam from your observations of the campus, the environment, the students, faculty and staff that you may notice during your tour. 

During your college search, tour guides (and even admissions counselors like me) can help relay important information about a college but we are merely basketball-passing conduits.  It’s only when you slow down on your visit and take the time to notice all that’s around you that you’ll see the gorilla and gain true insight into how that college might fit for you.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

U.S. News Ranks Holy Cross as Most Loved School

This just in: U.S. News recently ranked Holy Cross in the top ten “Most Loved Schools” by alumni.

As an alumna of Holy Cross, I am not surprised. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t come across something that makes me proud to call Holy Cross alma mater. A news feature about an accomplished faculty member, a warm conversation with a fellow alumnus, or an encounter with an especially kind or impressive student all serve as frequent reminders of what makes this such a special place.

As an employee, I have the pleasure of working with a dedicated and loyal group of alumni volunteers. Their love for Holy Cross is unwavering and contagious. They support the College in countless ways, and I certainly didn’t need to read U.S. News to know that Holy Cross is beloved by its graduates. Though I don’t often place much faith in rankings, this one rings true, through and through.

I hope that in your own college search, you find the school that you’ll love as much as I love mine.

Lynn Verrecchia
Associate Director of Admissions

Why Holy Cross? Because it’s Spring in New England

Having moved back East after four years of living a stone’s throw from the beach in Los Angeles, people often ask me, ”Why would anyone leave California for Massachusetts?”  To me, the answer is simple:

There is absolutely nothing like spring in New England.

You can smell its approach in the air.  After an arguably “character-building” winter, the first scent of spring is nothing short of amazing.  It’s an indescribable mix of soil and daffodils, mineral-y spring water,  and unadulterated joy.  And the second that scent matures into sunshine, and the temperature ticks above fifty degrees,  the air buzzes with a new sense of excitement.   The flip flops come out,  the window screens descend, the birds are chirpety chirping, Youk is up to bat, and all is right with the world.

New England’s four seasons instill in its patrons a unique sense of appreciation…an appreciation  for the characteristics and rhythms that each season presents, and an appreciation  for how quickly one season is engulfed by the next.  We learn to appreciate every day as it comes.   We watch the multi-colored leaves dancing overhead as we head to the game. We snuggle up and study with hot cocoa after tray-sledding.  We savor every last inch of spring sunshine from blankets on the quad.  We eat lobstah’ and chowdah’ with sunburned noses, and then we get excited to do it all again.

Julia Sanders
Assistant Director of Admissions

How to Choose the School for You

For high school seniors, April is the month for decisions. Once acceptance letters have been received, students spend time on college campuses, taking and re-taking tours, sitting in on classes and doing their best to find differences amongst schools that have so much in common. Some students will ask their friends or look for insight from social networking websites.

So how should they decide? What’s the best way for a student to decide amongst more than one quality choice? Conduct a poll on Facebook? Conduct a poll at the dinner table? Conduct an imaginary battle between mascots?

The answer is in the dressing room.

When we’re shopping for clothes, we all have that moment just after we’ve buttoned up a pair of pants – we take stock, we look in the mirror and we make a gut decision based upon how those pants fit us, how they suit us and how they feel.

And when we emerge from the dressing room and find family or friend waiting for us, they are sure to ask that one-word question — “Well?”

Buying pants, in that way, is similar to choosing a college. There are so many places and people to whom we can go for information or opinions. But what matters most is how a college feels to a student and what their gut is telling them.

So to all those students destined to wrestle between two or more quality choices, I encourage you to leave the websites and on-line polls behind and take a moment in the “dressing room” by yourself – go with your gut and choose the college which fits you the best.

Andrew N. Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

“Did you go to Holy Cross?”

I’m often asked to talk about the things that make Holy Cross unique or special.  Though there are many things that I think make my alma mater both unique and special, I always find myself giving the same answer.  I may choose different anecdotes to express my idea, but my message is always one of an enduring loyalty and excitement from students and alumni.

This weekend my husband and I tackled the task of yard work.  He wore a Holy Cross t-shirt while he worked, as he often does.  From my weed-pulling post around the side of the house, I suddenly heard an excited, “Did you go to Holy Cross?”  Two recent graduates were passing by, and they couldn’t help but stop to say hello.  We chatted briefly, and they continued on their way.  Our interaction was brief, but meaningful.  I sensed they walked away feeling the same way we did as we watched them go-nostalgic and proud just to be an “HC person”.

Many colleges can provide a good four year experience, and any lucky student will count their college years among the best of their life.  This is true of many Holy Cross graduates I’ve met.  The difference is that the fondness people have for this place endures far beyond those four years.  For some, it’s homecoming, or a 10th, 25 or perhaps 50th reunion that makes them nostalgic for that place they once called home.  Many others require little more than the sight of those familiar purple letters on a t-shirt on a Saturday afternoon.

That’s pretty special.

Lynn Verrecchia
Associate Director of Admissions

Giving Thanks

Over the Thanksgiving break, I was able to spend some time reflecting on all of the things that I am thankful for.  Below I’ve listed a few, relating to Holy Cross:

I am thankful for the Guidance Secretaries who worked with us to schedule our many high school visits this fall,  and for the cooperation they and their Counselor colleagues showed us when we arrived.

I am thankful for the Faculty, Administrators and fellow Staff here at the College of the Holy Cross with whom I have the pleasure of working everyday, and for their commitment to the wonderful students here.

I am thankful for all of our Admissions Senior Interviewers, Tour Guides, Online Chatters, Greeters, and all of our Alumni Volunteers who help us tell the Holy Cross story and reach out to many more students than we would be able to reach alone.

I am thankful for the applicants, some of whom will become the next generation of Holy Cross Crusaders, and the commitment each has made to their own education, school and community.

And I’m thankful to be here, in this beautiful place called the College of the Holy Cross, and to take part in telling the story.

Jim Richardson

Associate Director of Admissions

Course Offerings at Holy Cross

The semester is in full swing up on the hill!  Fall classes began on September 1st and we couldn’t be more excited for another year full of discovery and accomplishment.  Passing through the music department the other day, the hall was filled with jazz music.  It made me curious about the topic of the course seeing as how it was only the second day and they were already listening to some amazing music.  Come to find out the music department offers several courses with topics in jazz.  Just another fantastic opportunity at Holy Cross.  Take a look at the catalog and see what courses catch your attention!

Amanda Juriansz

Assistant Director of Admissions